E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Vicia cracca L.
Tufted Vetch (American vetch; bird vetch)
Fabaceae (Pea family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #4417)

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Distribution of Vicia cracca
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Vicia cracca ssp. cracca

Species Information

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Perennial herb; stems climbing or trailing, up to 2 m long, finely short-hairy to glabrous, angled and somewhat grooved.
Alternate, pinnately compound; leaflets 12 to 24, linear to lance-elliptic, abruptly narrowed to a pointed tip, 1-3 cm long; tendrils well developed, branched, grasping; stipules entire to toothed, 7-15 mm long.
Inflorescence an axillary, long-stalked, one-sided raceme of 20 to 70 densely packed, drooping, pea-like flowers, the racemes longer than the supporting stalks; corollas blue to reddish-purple, two-toned dark and pale, (8) 10-15 mm long; calyces 1/2 as long as the corollas, gradually rounded or slightly swollen at the base on the upper side, the tube 2-3 mm long, the upper pair of teeth short and triangular, the lower 3 much longer and narrower.
Pods, 1.5-3 cm long, glabrous; seeds 4 to 8.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Black
Present over the Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Mesic fields, clearings, thickets and open forests in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; frequent in S BC, infrequent northward mostly E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, rare on the Queen Charlotte Islands; introduced from Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Vicia cracca

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 604 1012
Slope Gradient (%) 0 18 65
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
120 281 335
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 4 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: CWH(2), ICH(1), IDF(1), PP(8)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References